It’s December and that means Silly season is officially upon us. I love this time of year! We’ll all be eating, drinking and shopping to our hearts’ content for the next few weeks. It feels like the fun is turned all the way up to eleven from now until Christmas.
This indulgent, celebratory time can also mean that we consume a lot more than we would throughout the year. This can be problematic for poor ole Mother Earth as it means we may be wasteful with our resources. Last year, 69% of Britons said they found the amount of waste at Christmas “unacceptable.” So let’s do something about it, shall we? In addition to avoiding plastic wherever possible and minimising food waste, here are 12 easy things you can do to make sure that your Christmas is as eco friendly as it is joyful.
1. Keep it real
After much deliberation, the jury is now in on the real vs. fake Christmas tree debate. Several studies, including this one reported by the BBC, have concluded that the carbon footprint of a real tree is smaller than that of a fake one. Plus, evergreens smell bloody fantastic. Compost your Christmas tree afterwards for environmental bonus points!
2. Make gifts yourself
Giving someone a homemade gift is as thoughtful as it is economical. This can be anything from homemade plant pots to chocolate bark. Cosmopolitan’s got some great ideas here. Most likely, your homemade puppy chow or scented candles will require far less plastic and waste than their manufactured equivalents.
3. Send cute emails instead of paper cards
This one’s a no brainer. It will save you time, money and needless paper and plastic waste. Include a sweet animated gif to make it extra lovely. This can be done yourself or through an e-card service like Paperless Post.
4. Buy second hand gifts
Second hand does not mean something is any less lovely! An item which would otherwise have gone to waste can feel like a shiny new gift for someone else. Plus, by going second hand you might be able to give something you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. Hello, vintage Prada sunnies! I’m hoping Santa brings me a few goodies from Vestiaire Collective this year.
5. Switch your energy provider
With winter in full swing and extra time at home over the holidays, now’s the perfect time to switch to a green energy provider. I recently switch to Octopus energy, and ended up saving £10 off my monthly bill. Get £50 credit if you switch with this code here.
Got some old clay pots? Repaint em! Old jam jars make great candle holders, drinking glasses or containers for homemade sweets. There are loads more clever ideas on Pinterest for upcycled gifts.
7. Make your own decorations
Pine cones, cinnamon sticks and orange slices all make lovely eco friendly tree trimmers. Plus, they’ll have your living room smell Christmassy AF. Growing up, our family would always thread popcorn and cranberries on a string to make a garland for the tree.
8. Start composting
There’s no time like the present! Especially when the present is going to be filled with cooking and eating an abnormal amount of food. Most councils in the UK offer food waste bins and liners for free. Request one from your council’s website to get started.
9. Opt for quality over quantity for Christmas lunch
The convenience of pre-made dishes you can pick up at the liked of M&S is very tempting. Yet each of those packaged items will likely be wrapped in a form of unrecyclable plastic, plus it will have been made in a facility that consumed far more fuel than your home. Instead of buying loads of pre-made, plastic-wrapped food, try buying whole ingredients and making things yourself. If that means you end up cooking less, this will equate to less food waste at the end of your meal. A win win! I don’t eat meat as this is far less harmful to the planet, but for all you meat eaters out there, free range organic turkey all the way!
10. Ask for a donation in lieu of gifts
My dad did this for his birthday last year and I thought it was just the sweetest thing. I’ve recently set up monthly donations to Friends of the Earth, who are doing some brilliant policy work to help our planet. Pick a charity that means something to you and ask that your loved ones donate there in your honor.
11. Support eco-friendly businesses
Try as we might, we probably aren’t going to make all of our gifts from scratch. When we do buy, let’s buy well. Either shop from local makers, or from big brands who treat the planet right. I love companies like Lush, Toms and Patagonia who set the corporate responsibility bar high by looking after the environment.
12. Eat those leftovers!
I know, a real arm twist on this one. Don’t let that food go to waste! BBC have some ideas here about how to use your leftovers. If you really just can’t manage to eat that turkey before it goes off, remember to food waste it and make a note to buy less next year. If you’ve got any packaged foods left over, take them to your local food bank.